And the Int. GS Trophy 2018 goes to…

Second consecutive victory for South African team at Int. GS Trophy 2018.

It was a fantastic finale to the 2018 Int. GS Trophy as the decision to award triple points in the Special Stage on the last day of the competition (day 8) gave all participants the chance to really influence their Team’s position in the final rankings.

The long ride home.

For the conclusion of this year’s international finals, the event would end exactly where it started eight days ago but 2,350 kilometres later — at the Chingisiin Khuree ger (yurt) camp on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. First though, all participants needed to make the final 300 kilometre ride from last night’s camp across gravel and sand tracks and through open plains to the location of the final Special Stage — ‘Monster Trial’ — located just outside the main entrance gates to the camp.   

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A unique opportunity.

A unique opportunity.

Tensions were quite high among the competitors as the ‘triple points’ decision for this final Special meant that there was potentially a lot to gain for the teams, but also a lot to lose if they didn’t handle the pressure well and made errors in their riding. Furthermore, the ‘Monster Trail’ offered plenty of scope for mistakes, especially as the large trials course included three special stages specifically designed to expose any gaps in a rider’s abilities, or their ability to perform under pressure.    

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The timed trial’s three ‘mini-specials’ included each participant having to walk their R 1200 GS Rallye backwards downhill and through a slalom course, with penalties applied if the rider or their bike touched the markings. This was followed by a ‘ride the garage’ special where the bike had to be ridden through a narrow labyrinth, with penalties applied for setting down a foot, or touching the course edge markings. Then, the third challenge was called the ‘wild horse turn’, where the bike had to be ridden inside a marked square, turned sharply and then returned to the starting point, with penalties applied if the bike is dropped or touches the course markings. All told, there were a lot of chances to make mistakes.    

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"
We’d practiced these kinds of exercises a lot at home, but it’s a different kind of pressure out here.
"

Linda Steyn, #273, Team EurAfrica

If you can’t stand the heat.

With a 43-points advantage over their nearest rivals — and 75 points available to the winners of the Special — Team South Africa knew that the Trophy was theirs to lose if they seriously messed up the trial, and the American team came out on top. However, the South Africans are a well-drilled unit and they didn’t buckle under pressure, keeping their cool throughout the Monster Trial and setting the second best combined time — in effect doing more than enough to secure the 2018 Int. GS Trophy win.

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"
Our strategy was slow is smooth, and smooth is fast— and it worked in this case!
"

Mark Dickinson, #221, Team South Africa

The grand finale.

The grand finale.

Interestingly, the best performers in this final Special stage were Team France, who effectively win the day, just as they did yesterday. Their epic and unbeatable performances for the second consecutive day brought them to 284 points —  just two points behind Team USA, who hold on to second place overall on 286 points. But it was Team South Africa’s unbeatable points tally of 338 that also makes Int. GS Trophy history, as they are the first nation to win consecutive international finals (see full points table below).

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As is customary at the Int. GS Trophy, all the results were announced directly to the participants (and streamed live on Facebook) following a farewell dinner, speeches and just before the party started. Team South Africa are popular with a huge community and are worthy winners in 2018 but all the teams that have made the journey to Mongolia to represent their nations (and genders!) are also winners too, and have already become an important part of Int. GS Trophy history. Even though the dust has already settled in Mongolia and will soon be washed out of all the participants BMW Rallye Suits, the memories will remain forever — as will their true ‘Spirit of GS’.  

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Pure thrill every day.

A full program: a lot of challenging special challenges on eight days of riding.

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Suitable motorcycles.